How to Find and Define Your Personal Style - Downtown Demure

Style 101: How to Define Your Personal Style

How to Find and Define Your Personal Style - Downtown Demure

This is the fourth installment of the STYLE 101 Series — A series dedicated to helping you enhance your sense of style. To check out the rest of the series, go HERE.

A few months ago, I wrote a post that has now become the second most popular post on my blog: 8 Ways to Develop Your Personal Style.

Some of you may have read that post and thought, “These are great tips, but…what if I have NO clue what my personal style is beyond jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t even know where to start!” Well, my goal is to help you further define your personal style with a few easy, actionable tips.

You may also wonder why it’s even necessary to define or identify your personal style. Personally, I think it’s a fun exercise (says the fashion blogger…), but here is my very practical answer: having a firm grasp on your personal style — and knowing what kind of clothes you look and feel great in — will prevent you from buying clothes you don’t need or will never wear. You can save money by knowing: a) what works for your body type, and b) what works for your personal style preferences.

So let’s get started…

1) Create a list of 5 style muses.

Are there certain bloggers whose outfits you’re ALWAYS pinning or bloggers whose photos you’re ALWAYS liking on Facebook or Instagram? These women are likely your style muses – women who have mastered the type of style you’re drawn to and would like to have. Now, write down a list of at least 5 of those women and analyze the commonalities between them. You’ll likely see pattern or themes.

By way of example, Here’s my list:

  1. Olivia Palermo
  2. Blaire Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific
  3. Caroline Issa
  4. Olivia Palermo
  5. Michelle Obama

What does each of these women have in common? They all have polished, sophisticated and feminine style that is full of unexpected elements that speak to their individual fashion-forward styles.

If you need help identifying your style muses, go to your fashion or style board on Pinterest that has the most pins. Who do you see more than anyone else? Boom.

Still having trouble? Consider some of these iconic fashionistas:

How to Define Your Personal Style via Downtown Demure

(As a modest fashion blogger, I feel it necessary to state that you don’t have to exactly mimic the icons pictured above (i.e., I’m not encouraging you to buy a see-through, laser cut ball gown because you identify with Beyonce’s glamorous style). It’s possible to dress modestly with any of the styles pictured above.)

2) Take photos of your outfits you love.

We all have those outfits that make us say, “yes!” or even, “yaaaas” when we put them on because we feel completely comfortable in them. The next time you’re having a ‘yes moment’ in your outfit, snap a quick photo of it with a full-length mirror. These outfits likely capture your true personal style. Quick tip: Snap photos in multiple angles so you can see how the outfit fits your whole body. That yes outfit may look great from the front, but not so great from the side.

Here is an example of one of my ‘yesss’ outfits that I will continue to wear until the clothes start falling apart:

Monochromatic outfit with blue midi skirt at the pink wall in los angeles - downtown demure

3) Create a list of 5-10 items that make you happy.

Take a look at the photos you snap and the items you continually pin. See any obvious repeats and patterns? Now, jot down those repeat offenders. These are the items that will be the foundation for your personal style, and these are the items you should invest in because you’ll actually wear them.

The easiest way to do this is by analyzing one of your Pinterest style boards. I have a board on Pinterest called Classy Goods, and with just a quick glance at it, it’s obvious what kind of items I’m drawn to:

  1. Pointy Toe Pumps
  2. Strappy Sandals (apparently I REALLY love shoes)
  3. Floral ANYTHING
  4. Midi skirts
  5. Flowy maxi skirts
  6. Pleated or flowy midi skirts
  7. Floral Dresses
  8. Breezy maxi dresses

Those are the kind of items I’d expect my style muses to wear, and, whaddya know, I’m wearing a midi skirt and pointy toe pumps (because pointy pumps elongate your legs and are wonder workers for petite women like myself). It seems a theme is starting to emerge…

4) Get specific.

Here’s the hard part: Finding words to define your style preferences.  After looking at my muses, outfit photos, and the type of items I’m drawn to, I came up with the following adjectives for my personal style:

Ladylike. Classic. Feminine. Effortless. Fun. Unexpected. Polished.

Now it’s your turn! Come up with some adjectives to describe your style, and share them with me in the comments section below. Keep in mind that you don’t have to box yourself into one type of style. If you’re like me and have a polished, lady-like style, it’s OK to experiment with edgy or bohemian pieces. This is an exercise to determine your primary personal style so that you build a wardrobe around it.

5) Look at the items in your closet that you NEVER wear.

Sometimes you can learn a great about your personal style by looking at the items you DON’T wear. Your closet likely has a few outliers – the items you were so excited to buy in the store but haven’t worn since you bought them, or the items you never wear because they only work with one particular outfit. You don’t wear those outlier items for a reason…and that reason is likely because they don’t fit well or they just don’t fit your personal style well. So here’s what I want you to do:

1) Take an inventory of your outlier items. Analyze what kind of items they are in comparison to the items you listed in Step 3. Think about why they don’t fit with your overall wardrobe.

My outliers are trendy items like graphic tees and sweaters from Forever 21. I bought the graphic tees and sweaters because they were trendy and cheap, but they’re a bit too kitschy for my personal style (and age). My takeaway: stop buying trendy items that I can’t picture myself wearing with multiple outfits.

2) Purge em. Unless that pair of embroidered jeans was hand sewn by your grandma and has serious sentimental value, do yourself a favor and sell the outliers you’re not wearing. I highly recommend Poshmark for such closet purges. (Here’s the link to my Poshmark closet in case you want to be buddies.)

6) Be Real About Your Lifestyle Needs.

Did you determine that you have more of a boho-chic style à la Nicole Ritchie and Sienna miller? Awesome! Congrats on nailing down your personal style, girl.

Before you get carried away buying flares and flowy embroidered blouses, be realistic about how that style will fit into your lifestyle. If you work in a conservative corporate environment like me, you probably can’t get away with wearing the items that truly showcase your personal style preference. So invest in a handful of boho-chic items that make you happy that you can wear repeatedly over the weekend.

I’ll be honest, half of my closet is currently dormant because my clothing is a bit too fashion-forward for my current work environment. For a long while, I worked in a very casual environments, so I was free to wear anything wasn’t obviously offensive. I now have to make smarter clothing purchases and save the items that truly display my style personality for the weekends (and blogging!). I also have a serious aversion to irons and ironing (ugh, hate it), so I know to buy items that don’t wrinkle easily or that need minimal heat to look polished. Just be honest with yourself about your lifestyle needs.

I hope you found these tips helpful and are that much closer to defining your personal style!

You’re Also Going To Love:

If you loved reading tips on how to define your personal style, you’ll also love these posts full of more wardrobe building tips.

      6 Tips to Find Modest Workout Clothing How to Build a Stylish & Affordable Modest Wardrobe  Modest Brand Spotlight: A Review of my 1st eShakti Dress

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Margaret
    09/17

    I loved reading this post! It was very helpful! Thanks you!
    -Margaret
    http://happyinheels.blogspot.com/

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Margaret
      09/17

      So happy to hear that, Margaret! Thanks for reading!

  • Avatar
    Jill
    09/18

    This is so helpful! I love the way you broke down the tips. #6 is key! Thanks for sharing!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink
    Jill recently posted…Indian SummerMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Jill
      09/18

      So happy to read you found this helpful! Thanks, Jill!

  • Avatar
    Elizabeth
    09/18

    I’ve never really given my personal style a whole lot of thought! lol But you’re right, you can tell a lot by going through your pins and seeing who you follow on Instagram lol I don’t really have any celebrities whose style I admire. If you go through my pins on Pinterest, you will see a lot of bloggers, not any celebrities. I know that I don’t have a very loud or eccentric taste. I love comfort more than just how something looks, so if it looks awesome, but is really uncomfortable, that’s one of those things in my closet that I will probably never wear! I guess you could say my style is simple and feminine. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself “trendy” lol So I guess casual? I don’t know, but I’ll have to think about this now! lol

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Elizabeth
      09/18

      It’s kinda fun to analyze your closet and style preferences, huh? Your style is very similar to mine. You like simple, effortless feminine clothes that are cute and not fussy. Only, you’re probably more practical than I am. Do you wear heels? I think you try playing around with dainty, low-key accessories if you want to play around with your look.

      • Avatar
        Elizabeth
        > Elizabeth
        09/19

        Okay, so maybe it’s more of comfy casual lol I prefer Keds, Converse, flats, and sandals any day! Where I’m from, it’s a small Southern town, so you never see people wearing “trendy” items. I have a fedora hat but never wear it because you NEVER see anyone around here wearing hats, unless it’s a baseball cap lol Those new floppy hats you see everywhere? No one around here would wear those, even though they’re cute! You’re dressed up around here if you are wearing something nicer than pajamas or a worn-out pair of blue jeans lol But yeah, I have a feminine, casual style 🙂

  • Avatar
    Logan Can
    09/18

    My problem is, I have SO many styles that I wear and love. I am mostly casual, but love dressing up in “feminine” attire and also really love the bohemian look. I’m kind of all over the place. I’m not really sure which category I would fit best in. I loved reading this post!

  • Avatar
    Amanda Rinehart
    09/18

    HEY! That was much more informational than i expected! I feel like I learned something about myself here! Good job! lol. And you nailed me… I’m LOVING the Boho/Casual style. I also love business attire as well. JUST GIVE ME ALL THE CLOTHES! ha! 😉

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Amanda Rinehart
      09/18

      Haha! Seriously the best note I can receive is that the post was helpful, so your comment just made me so happy. Thanks for stopping by and leaving some love, Amanda! And if only we could have ALL the clothes…

  • Avatar
    Bianca
    09/18

    I love this post!! And your outfit is super cute with that blue skirt! This post definitely helped me out A LOT with figuring out my style and must-haves. I’ll pin this for sure! Thank you!
    Bianca recently posted…Top Knot Kind Of DayMy Profile

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Bianca
      09/18

      Aww, you’re a doll! So happy to hear you found the post helpful, Bianca!

  • Avatar
    Karolina
    09/18

    Hiya, I had time to read the post now! Awesome tips, thank’s for sharing!
    I like your site and pictures, you look amazing in that outfit!

    //Karolina

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Karolina
      09/18

      Aww, thanks for stopping by and leaving a little love, Karolina! So glad you like the post!

  • Avatar
    Darcy
    09/21

    This is a great post! I always think it hard to describe my personal style when people ask me!
    http://www.amemoryofus.com

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Darcy
      09/26

      I totally understand. Hopefully this post makes that task a little easier. Thank you, Darcy!

  • Avatar
    Lornah
    09/23

    THAANNNKS for this article, really helpful. I am glad i bumped into your blog, been looking for Christian fashion bloggers for a long time. God bless!
    mind checking my blog…

    http://www.thecherriesvineyard.wordpress.com

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth
      > Lornah
      09/26

      I’m so glad this post was helpful for you, Lornah! Thanks for the love! Will definitely check out your blog. 🙂

  • Avatar
    Happiness at Mid Life
    09/23

    I dont really think much about my personal style because it feels like it all depends on my mood. I tend to be more feminine with my work outfits and super laid back with my weekend. Great post and ideas on how to streamline my wardrobe!

    Alice
    http://www.happinessatmidlife.com

    Hope to see your Thursday for TBT Fashion link up.
    Happiness at Mid Life recently posted…Crop Leopard Sweater for WorkMy Profile

  • Avatar
    Angelique Pacheco
    08/15

    This was a great article, very helpful. Thank you. I look forward to more of your blogs 🙂

  • Avatar
    Sami
    09/17

    Loved this post! I can’t remember the last time I read a post all the way through and wanted more! I want to run to my closet and look for my outliers and purge them right now!!

  • Avatar
    Katie
    11/14

    Amazing tips to imitate the latest styles.Being real is much important to look good with confidence.Images you presented here are wonderful I will definitely imitate them.Thanks for sharing!
    Katie recently posted…MASLOWS HIERACHY OF NEEDS AND SHOPPING DESIRESMy Profile

  • Avatar
    silvia
    02/11

    Thanks for that post, totally agreeing with the work – real life “issue”. I think you have been the first blogger bringing that up instead of talking as if we all where It-persons who live on expressing our personalities!!

  • Avatar
    Kelli Boucher
    04/20

    I really like tomboy and casual look. Keep share your article with u